Sunday, January 21, 2018

Eating Disorder Recovery Handbook (3)


“There are realities we all share, regardless of our nationality, language, or individual tastes. As we need food, so do we need emotional nourishment: love, kindness, appreciation, and support from others.” -- J. Donald Walters

As a note of caution: If you are at a point where refeeding syndrome might be a concern, please seek medical attention as soon as possible. Also, eating disorders can affect hormone and electrolyte levels. In general, stress can affect your entire endocrine system, so check in with your general physician or an endocrinologist to make sure you are not experiencing any symptoms related to hormone or endocrine imbalance. Be sure you are following the advice of your recovery team and doctors as you look into these and any other suggestions. Only use what you feel safe using.

Food is fundamental to life, yet many see eating as the most difficult aspect of treatment, however essential it is for recovery. Healing starts with giving your body, including the brain, all it needs to nourish and restore itself, so that it can operate at an optimum level. You have to give yourself permission to eat. Any guilt or shame around eating, no matter what your actual size, must be countered with a reminder that food is a basic right that you deserve and need. Food and nourishment are primarily for the body but also for the mind and the soul, so to speak. And nourishment can take many forms when it comes to how you manage your body.

Moving toward health takes seeing yourself and treating yourself as a whole being. This includes the physical, emotional, mental and even spiritual bodies. We can’t expect the cure of a complex illness to be found by focusing on only one aspect of the disorder, however, when it comes to eating disorders, refeeding and getting proper nutrition, no matter what your disorder, is essential. Unfortunately, getting the right nourishment can be one of the scariest steps in the healing process. It’s important to keep in mind, though, that the more the body is lacking nutrients, the more distorted thinking generally is. As an example, a person in the throes of an eating disorder such as anorexia will often feel fat. It seems counterintuitive, but this kind of distortion usually becomes less problematic as weight is restored and the right nutrients are included in the diet. In my own case, I constantly felt fat and uncomfortable in my body during my worst struggles, but when my weight returned to a stable level, I experienced fewer thought distortions and less negative thinking. In fact, the noisy, unhealthy chatter in my head went from being a constant annoyance to eventually slipping into the background to finally giving me peace as I continued to heal.

Whether your pattern includes restricting, binging and purging, or some combination, the ultimate goals in recovery are restoring health and experiencing life again. These are complementary goals: Progress in one eases the path toward the other. Refeeding can be a difficult step in recovery, and that’s why it’s safer to have support -- perhaps even in a hospital setting -- when you begin to eat after a long period of restricting or after eating inconsistently. Finding pleasure and enjoyment, even when it comes to eating meals, can happen. For those who believe they are eating too much and feel guilty, look at where these beliefs come from and how realistic they are. As Carmen Cool, MA, LPC says, “Your body, your rules,” so aim for both physical and emotional health as much as possible. Sometimes being healthy includes eating a chocolate ice cream cone in the middle of the afternoon with friends or having a second serving of potato chips with your sandwich.

It’s not uncommon to have an increased appetite as you begin to nourish your body. In fact, this is normal. Whatever kind of disorder you have, it’s so important to make sure you are getting enough protein, healthy fats and carbohydrates during this phase of recovery and that you have the emotional support you need. Cravings can feel scary, but the more you understand them and the more you listen to what the are saying, whether they are emotional or physical needs, the easier it will be to feel at ease when they appear.

I can’t stress this enough: The more support you have from family, friends, therapists, dietitians, nutritionists and/or members of support groups, the better. You don’t have to go through this alone. Knowing we are not alone is a comforting thought, and feeling supported can push us to make the changes we need.

The fear of not being able to stop or control the hunger once you begin eating regularly can be worrisome, but allow yourself time for your body to adjust to the changes and to the different foods you are now consuming. It can take a while for your body to heal and adjust to digesting food regularly again. Your metabolism will probably increase as you eat more and are no longer in a state of starvation. Even if you were not starving before starting your recovery, your body still needs time to get used to consistently receiving and processing the proper nutrients. Please trust me on this -- any uncomfortable feelings will subside. Have faith that the intense hunger will decrease once you get used to eating regular meals.

Honor your hunger, and don’t be afraid of it. Acknowledge it and learn that it’s OK to eat when you feel hungry. You don’t reach a moral high ground or display strength when you restrict and deny yourself what your body needs. On the contrary, it takes courage, conviction and strength to give your body what it desires when you are used to restricting or binging.

Often neglected in discussions about refeeding (or simply changing your diet) is the fact that troubling digestive issues may arise. Digestive enzymes, such as pancreatin and hydrochloric acid, can cause bloating, gas, and that uncomfortable full feeling while they help your body absorb more nutrients. Other symptoms, such as acid reflux, constipation, nausea, excessive hunger, or diarrhea, might require that you seek medical attention. With severe malnourishment, intravenous vitamin drips can be most beneficial. A high-quality multivitamin and mineral tablet – especially one that contains an adequate amount of zinc, a mineral that has been shown to decrease the symptoms of anorexia – is crucial when adequate daily nutrients are missing from the diet. Ultimately, the body is resilient and is able to repair itself when given the chance. Healing is possible. With proper nutrients and an improved mental outlook, complete healing can occur more quickly.

Keep in mind that no single diet will work for everyone. There is no perfect diet, and what is optimal for one person might not be for another. In addition, the diet you settle on now may evolve, and you may find that it changes as your comfort level around eating improves during recovery. Aim for a nutrient-dense diet, but move away from too many rules, especially ones that are too strict. Your diet should be something you create that includes a variety of foods. If you are unsure about what you should be eating, try seeing a nutritionist or dietitian to get you started in the right direction.

Food should nourish both the body and the soul, so to speak. Some people like the idea of intuitive eating, while others like to have a meal plan to use as a guideline. Be sure, though, that meal plans are suggestions only. You should be able to allow any rules around food to be broken when it means you are honoring your physical needs. It’s also OK to break rules just because you feel like it, but try to be aware and don’t beat yourself up about it afterward. It’s your body, and you are allowed to have a say in how and what you eat. This will become more second nature the more you get used to eating a healthy amount. During meal times, try to make your environment as calm and comfortable as possible with few distractions. Turn off the television, set the table, put your cell phone in the other room, and sit down, so that you can concentrate and be aware of the food you are eating and also be in touch with how you are feeling. Make sure you are addressing any issues that can make meals more stressful and cause an increase in anxiety. Try to make mealtimes stress-free. After meals, use either journaling or distraction to keep from feeling any anxiety related to eating.

Eating out and eating with others can be challenging when you are also dealing with an eating disorder. Not being able to control what you eat and eating in front of others might cause anxiety. Do your best to stay as calm and relaxed as you can. Part of eating with others is the social aspect, so do what you can do focus on enjoying the company you are with. For some, eating with others can actually help them feel more relaxed. Being with others can allow a person to feel safer with trusting that portion sizes are acceptable and with eating in general. Whatever the case, whether you see eating with others as a challenge or an advantage, push yourself to go outside of your comfort zone from time to time.

Fad diets, even those based on scientific findings, do not typically address the emotional aspect of eating. Whether you restricted, binged or purged, make sure you are addressing the underlying emotional issues related to your particular disorder. Always remind yourself that you are deserving and need food to survive. There should be no shame or guilt around eating. Fad diets might give you quick weight-loss results, but they don’t teach you how to listen to and trust your body and its needs.

There is nothing wrong with enjoying your food. Many cultures celebrate and use food as a way to socialize. Food can be a way to create warm memories when we learn to get past any disordered thinking around it.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Eating Disorder Recovery Handbook (2)

What It’s All About

“Count your blessings, not the calories. Weigh your options, not your self-worth. Starve your self-hatred, not your body. Hate the disorder, not yourself.” --Anonymous

Understanding some of the contributing factors that led to your illness and getting to know the driving forces behind any unhealthy actions and urges can help you heal. For many individuals, eating disorders are a coping strategy, a logical way to feel safe and in control in a chaotic environment. We are not able to control the world around us, so those of us who are susceptible to eating disorders will often turn to unhealthy and even dangerous behaviors as a way to give ourselves a false sense of control or to distract ourselves from reality.

Throughout your recovery, you must continually ask yourself, “What is driving these unhealthy thoughts” or “What’s behind my self-destructive actions?” Your thoughts and actions are a symptom of something deeper. What is going on in your life now, or what happened in the past, that is pushing you toward engaging in disordered eating? Always ask yourself if you are hungry (physically or emotionally), angry, lonely, or tired (the HALT question common to numerous recovery programs). Ask yourself what additional stresses you are facing, and never be afraid to ask for support.

If you have trouble identifying your emotions, use a chart of emotions or a feelings wheel, such as this one: Go through a list and ask yourself if the descriptions on any of the emotions on a chart fit with what you are experiencing. Try your best to describe what you are feeling in a journal or diary. Sometimes the mere act of describing what you feel can ease the actual feelings. Try to distinguish between what you are thinking and what you are feeling. If you have ever lived with dysfunction -- and almost all of us have; whether it’s in the family, with friends, a coworker or with a significant other, truly healthy and functional relationships are rare -- chances are that you learned at some point to suppress your feelings. When we shove our feelings down and can’t fully express what we feel, we end up behaving differently. Over time, discounting and continually holding in emotions can even lead to feeling physically sick.

Many other conditions, such as anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), are often comorbid with eating disorders. In fact, quite often, treating an underlying condition such as depression helps with the treatment of an eating disorder. Antidepressants, either synthetic or all-natural (e.g., SAM-e, TravaCor, or St John’s wort) can take the edge off the depression and anxiety that often accompany an eating disorder. If possible, work with a therapist, doctor or someone in the medical field who can determine if you are dealing with a mood issue with roots outside your eating disorder. Don’t be afraid to try suggested medications if your treatment team feels it’s necessary.

Above all, give whatever you try or whatever therapy in which you engage time to have an effect and communicate with your treatment providers how you are feeling along the way. If this is difficult, look into finding a patient’s advocate to guide you.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Eating Disorder Recovery Handbook

I decided to post the recovery handbook I wrote recently. It's my belief that more people will benefit from it if it's free and easily accessible. Hopefully some people will still purchase it on Smashwords, Amazon, or any other book outlet. Still, I would rather put the information out there in the hope that it will help someone in need.

I will post at the rate of a chapter a day or so. If you would rather purchase the book, please click on one of the links below:





Tips and advice about how to recover and heal from anorexia, bulimia, EDNOS, OSFED and binge eating

anorexia recovery
Find your own path to recovery

By Lize Brittin

Edited by Kevin Beck

Eating Disorder Recovery Handbook
Lize Brittin
Edited by Kevin Beck

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Copyright 2017 Lize Brittin

All rights are reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of the author.

Thank you for respecting the author's work.

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What It’s All About
Body Image
Taking Action
Family and Friends

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 "There is no magic cure, no making it all go away forever. There are only small steps upward; an easier day, an unexpected laugh, a mirror that doesn't matter anymore." -- Laurie Halse Anderson When I first started writing my memoir Training on Empty, it was partly to tell my personal story but mainly to offer hope and inspiration. I wanted to show others that recovery from anorexia and other eating disorders is possible. Not long after I wrote the book, I started a companion blog. As I have continued to build this over the years, I discovered anew that recovery is a process. Every year, I grow and learn new lessons. Recovery, a bona fide full recovery, is possible, but it takes staying one step ahead of the illness. It requires recognizing patterns and triggers, and finding new coping strategies in order to stay healthy. Most of all, it takes radical trust in yourself and total self-respect to truly get over an eating disorder. For over 20 years, I struggled with an eating disorder, primarily anorexia. It was a severe case, one that nearly killed me, and I spent time in hospitals, went to therapists, read books and even tried countless alternative therapies, all in an effort to overcome my illness and mostly in vain, though I can’t discount all I was able to take in along the way. I felt like I was on a quest for a magic pill. I was looking for answers outside myself, sure that something or someone could make me feel better. The more the illness consumed me, the more frantic and concerned my friends and family became. Their emotions ranged from frustration and anger to sadness. On some level, I understood that, in a way, I was choosing this agony, much like an alcoholic chooses to drink, but I felt completely stuck, unable to help myself. I knew there was a way out of the hell I was creating, but I couldn’t see how to free myself. I felt like I was in prison, but people kept saying I had put myself there. How could this be? On an intellectual level, I knew what I needed to do to get well, but I couldn’t seem to make a move, any move, in the right direction. My mom, who had overcome terrible hardship in her life, kept telling me that in order to recover, I had to want to get well, really want it. The results of the changes I envisioned were appealing, but putting them in place seemed impossible. It meant letting go of certain behaviors, my unhealthy coping mechanisms. Food to me was never really related to hunger. Early in my life, I ate for comfort. Later, I restricted to gain a sense of control in what felt like a stressful environment. My eating disorder was like a security blanket, a deadly one. In her book, “Eating in the Light of the Moon”, Dr. Anita Johnston offers a wonderful analogy. She describes a scene in which a girl is struggling after falling into a river and gets swept downstream. She is overwhelmed and can't swim to shore. In a frantic effort to survive, the girl grabs onto a log. This log keeps her afloat, but it’s also pulling her further down the river. Meanwhile, people on the banks of the river see a simple solution: let go and swim to shore. The people shout at her to let go and swim, but she's too afraid to let go. She has convinced herself that she needs the log. It did initially save her, after all. The problem is that the floating lumber is now carrying her away and may eventually take her into dangerous waters that will ultimately drown her. Obviously the log in the story represents the addiction or disorder we choose in order to cope. It can be addiction, eating issues, bad relationships or any coping method that isn't healthy. It serves us in the short term in the sense that it offers us a way to feel like we are surviving in a chaotic situation, but it's not a comfortable way to live. In fact, it may kill us in the end. For anyone struggling with these issues, it's important to ask what purpose the illness or addiction has served. What does having the disorder keep you from experiencing? Why are you drawn to the disorder, and what security does the illness provide and at what expense? It's impossible to swim to shore without strength. Coping not only takes courage but also a different way of looking at a situation. Often in recovery, relapses occur because the core issues are being ignored. Every time those of us who are prone to eating disorders feel overwhelmed, it becomes too tempting to grab the log again. In order to get past the urge to revert, we must discover who we are. In doing so, we begin to recognize our own strength. Whether I was eating too much, not eating enough or eating and purging through exercise or otherwise, food was a way for me to cope and avoid negative feelings. My disorder was a distraction, something I used to avoid dark feelings and thoughts. Whatever I did with food took my attention away from the situations in my life that were beyond my control and placed it on something more tangible, at least it felt this way initially, but the rules I created for myself were too strict. I was becoming too rigid, and eventually, I got lost in my illness. I became completely numb to the world around me, experiencing only the turmoil and pain of the illness. Such a magic recovery pill has yet to be invented, literally or metaphorically. Instead, after many years of struggling, I found enough courage to take a first step toward something different, and that was what eventually propelled me onto a path of health. That’s all it took, a simple decision to do something different, to try a different path and listen to the small part of myself that had been begging for change. A friend told me to try something, anything different, and at first I thought it would be impossible. I could always go back, she assured me, but I found once I did try something else, something less self-destructive, I didn’t want to go back. Why was it so difficult during those hard years to listen to that voice, the healthy, sensible, rational one that wanted peace? I wish it had been simple, but that’s not to say it can’t be for some. It took many years of struggling in a whole new way before I could really embrace recovery, however, the decision to try happened in an instant, not unlike my decision to innocently go on a diet in order to gain some control of my life, or so I initially thought. What I hope to offer here is not so much a step-by-step guide to recovery but more a book of suggestions that anyone can consider at any given time during recovery. We are all unique, so what works for one person might not work for another. There are, however, key issues to address that can potentially help anyone reclaim health. Recovery is not linear or sudden. It doesn’t happen overnight. There are ups and downs, but there can be an overall positive trend despite any lows you might face. There’s a saying that I and many others have found to be true: Our worst days in recovery are far better than our best days in the throes of the illness. Any hardships in recovery are worth it when you get to experience more freedom in recovery. Eating disorders are not a choice. There are genetic factors, physiological components as well as environmental, emotional and mental aspects to consider. These illnesses are extremely complex, and recovery is not as simple as making one decision. Heading into recovery, however, has to begin with intention, a step, no matter how small, in the right direction, a willingness to try something different when you know what you’re doing isn’t working. A person reaches wellness by making multiple choices on a daily basis, but beginning the journey can be as simple as making a declaration about or a commitment to recovery. Your initial decision must be followed by renewed dedication and actual effort to support the end goal every day. It does get easier, though, and recovery is possible. It just takes patience and a lot of hard work.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

No Resolutions

I rarely ever made resolutions, and I'm not about to start now. More often than not, it's unhealthy for someone with an eating disorder in her past to commit to a specific diet or training plan. Instead, I will keep committing to doing my best to stay in recovery no matter what's going on in and around my life.

Since Runner's World created a podcast with one episode that addressed eating disorders, I decided to take a listen. While I felt compassion for the ladies interviewed, there was a lot of missing information, and, once again, the focus never fully turned to recovery or the steps of healing. In fact, I distinctly heard at least two people support the myth that you never really get over an eating disorder. When people told me this when I was in the throes of my illness, my first thought was, "Then why would anyone even try?" It's bullshit. Statistically, that's not even true. If that were the case, why would anyone put all this energy into living only marginally better than suffering in complete hell?

No, recovery is possible, but it's a process, sometimes a slow one, and it looks different for each person. You don't suddenly arrive at a perfect life. Instead, you grow and adapt and learn how to keep your commitment to recovery. You don't have to live with those oppressive thoughts nagging you every moment of the day. You can live and be present in life. Sure, you might have setbacks, but it's all part of the process. When you stumble, it doesn't mean you are still stuck in the disorder; it just means you have to learn or relearn more coping strategies.

I posted this on Twitter the other day:

Hey Runner's World, it's great that your podcast addressed eating disorders, but I'd respect you a lot more if you stop constantly bombarding your audience with weight loss tips and reinforcing unrealistic beauty standards that have zero to do with athletics.

It's a good thing that Runner's World is trying to help raise awareness about eating disorders, but I wish they would be consistent with their messages. Both this year and last year (2017 and 2016), I noticed several RW magazine covers promoting weight loss. Their cover images are very obviously airbrushed, and, like most other magazines, they seem more concerned with promoting a certain image, how someone looks over health or performance. The podcast really should have addressed more than symptoms and statistics. Too often people get stuck in their stories and forget that it's OK to discuss something other than their past.  

What we really need instead of more talk about what an eating disorder looks like or new definitions of what the beauty standard is (thin, fit, strong, skinny, etc.) or what diet people should or shouldn't eat is a shift away from talking about beauty standards altogether. We need to stop defining ourselves in terms of new or old aesthetic ideals and start talking about our real values. 


Except for the injury situation, things are rolling along fairly smoothly. 

Happy New Year! 

May your 2018 be filling with great accomplishments, good health, and much happiness. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Recap of Complaints

Back in the 80s and early 90s, there wasn't the social media craze you see today. Running groupies read articles in magazines or newspapers to get a glimpse into the lives of other runners, and only the most successful athletes were featured in these publications. I remember reading about one ultramarathoner who claimed she ran through her injuries. Since she was one of the best, I'm sure other people took her boasting about being tough enough to train and race through ailments as advice and tried to do the same. Needless to say, this lady is older now and dealing with all kinds of debilitating limitations. It turns out running through injuries eventually gets you more injured. Not all successful athletes give out good advice.

Taking online suggestions seems worse or at least sketchier than reading about the daily routine of a pro athlete because anyone can claim to be an expert, credentials or not, and the amount of advice spewed all over the web is overwhelming. Instagram is probably the best place to get the worst advice, especially when it comes to diet and exercise, but you will find countless people who claim to have come so far, learned so much, and are in great places, often in the same way that Jeremy Mayfield is perpetually announcing he's in a much better place and has his shit together... this time.

Since I landed in the sidelined department again with bursitis, I feel the need to direct my attention elsewhere. Running, at least structured running, is on the back burner for now, so I need a distraction. Complaining seems like a good option. Actually, I shouldn't word it that way. It's more that in the last year or so I have found many groups of people who seem to promote similar ideas that I don't think are beneficial. This frustrates me. Those in the eating disorder recovery community who claim to be encouraging health but actually aren't tend to fall into about six different categories. Those that stood out to me are listed below.

1. Probably the least offensive advisor, because she means well, is the one that uses scare tactics. Saying, "Don't go down this path because here's what can happen!" has rarely prevented someone else from engaging in unhealthy behaviors. If telling someone who is bulimic she might lose her teeth or reminding an anorexic she might have a heart attack worked to cure eating disorders, there would be far fewer cases of these kinds of illnesses.

Eating disorders are not a choice. It never comes down to "just stop" or "just eat" or "just do things differently." There's a genetic component that can contribute to a person developing an illness. There are also physical changes that occur when a person restricts or purges or even binges. These nutritional disruptions ultimately affect the brain and, in turn, a person's decision-making capabilities. Sure, engaging in certain behaviors is a choice, but it's not that simple. Our decisions are the result of our chemical makeup and our responses to our environment. Trying to scare someone into recovery doesn't address the underlying issues that contribute to eating disorders.

2. In sharp contrast to the type listed above is the "in your face girl" who often gets called out for promoting thinspiration and boasts about her athletic achievements while showing off her protruding hip bones. This one will claim that because she can participate in athletics, her increasing scrawniness is nothing others should mention. Her attitude is usually, "FUCK YOU I'M FINE SO FUCK OFF!" These kinds of people usually boast until their illness or a severe injury removes them from their platform, and then they disappear for very long periods of time, hopefully to get some help, but, unfortunately, they sometimes reappear only to demand that others watch them go down the same dangerous path. And somehow they put themselves in the recovery advocate category, usually with recovery hashtags all over their posts.

3. A less extreme version of the in your face girl is the one who keeps declaring how terrible it is that we compare ourselves to others and how damaging it can be while bombarding her audience with daily images, exact calories, macros, and exercises. This one is hard for me to understand because she says she gets it and wants to be encouraging but clearly doesn't give a shit about her audience by continuing to post the very content she acknowledges is unhealthy for others. Perhaps she feels it helps her in some bizarre way, and fuck her audience, or perhaps she's too lost in her illness to edit her content. Whatever the case, stop it. Stop posting images of yourself at your unhappiest, thinnest, and worst, and stop commenting on your fucking macros. Nobody needs to see that. It's your private business, nobody else's. If you want to share it, do so with a dietitian or nutritionist or even a close friend, not the general public.

4. There's also the Keto chick who, after a few weeks on her new diet, raves and raves about how great she feels and insists that her diet is the best one EVER, that everyone should try it. Oh, and by the way, anyone who hates vegetables is a loser. Who doesn't just love vegetables? What's wrong with you that you don't absolutely love to eat eggplant and beef for breakfast? As if food preference is some kind of measure of moral superiority, she throws herself atop her high horse and looks at all the poor slobs beneath her who prefer toast to green beans.  Not to be labeled unaccepting, though, this one claims she doesn't really mind those who still eat horrible, life-damaging carbs and refuse to join her on the best diet for everyone. She's just sure that her diet is better for YOU.

5. On the other extreme of the Keto chick is the life coach who promotes veganism and claims that a high-carb diet is good for everyone, including diabetics. She either has some sort of online certification in alternative nutrition or claims she studies health, but telling someone with an eating disorder that the solution is to eat a certain diet is about as effective as telling her to just eat, period. These types often fall into eliminating entire food groups because of their own fears and issues around food and double down if anyone suggests that a healthy diet can include a variety of foods. I have far more respect for those who admit that choosing a restrictive diet is their moral choice or due to their illness. Again, what works for one person doesn't always work for others.

6. The last type on the list is the opportunist who pretends she's an advocate but ultimately rips on those who struggle and goes on to imply that recovery from eating disorders is about willpower or choice. Someone who slams another who's ill while claiming to be an advocate is like one of those racist pigs who claims he's not because he has a (N-word) friend. I look on in horror when people like this boast about how strong they are for not having gone down *that* road and then go on to mock or put down those who did. I have a real issue with people who do this, mostly because they are intentionally manipulative and aware, unlike those who maybe want to help but are stuck in their own obsessions and compulsions and don't know exactly how or those who think they are offering support but really aren't. These are the types who are most likely trying to sell you something or simply like being in the spotlight. Their main concern isn't helping others.

To the people listed above: Y'all are badly missing the mark.

These types might think or pretend they are eating disorder recovery advocates, but that's not the way to help someone in the throes of an actual disorder. The one thing that's apparent is that they are begging for attention, but helping others doesn't involve boasting about yourself, putting those who are struggling down or shoving your ideas about diet down anyone's throat. Remember, many who struggle have difficulty eating enough or at all or feel out of control around food, so telling them to do it your way probably isn't going to be their solution. As some people say, if recovery isn't working, you're not failing; the program you're trying is failing you. In that case, try something else because there is no one right way to recover, and each of us has to discover what works for ourselves.

Part of the problem is that those who haven't gone through an eating disorder can't fully understand what it's like to have one, and those who are too lost in certain aspects of their illness have a hard time seeing that there are many different paths to recovery. They often focus too much on the symptoms rather than the core issues. If you haven't been at death's door and wondered why the path of continuing to starve, binge or purge was pulling you over the will to survive, most likely you will never comprehend what it's like to have this kind of illness.

One way you can become an advocate is to listen and learn from the people struggling and begin to understand what's helpful and what's not. Remember, too, that there are many different kinds of eating disorders, so the vocabulary you use when discussing recovery must address more than one kind of illness.

Monday, December 4, 2017

I Spoke Too Soon

Actually, a small setback isn't the end of the world, but I'm not exactly training or holding steady at the moment. It turns out that the exhaustion I experienced last week was probably less the result of race fatigue and more due to the fact that I was coming down with something. Despite doing the right thing and taking it extra easy after my most recent race, I ended up with a cold that morphed into something more. I rarely get sick, but when I do, the malady seems to hit hard. As a result, I'm taking a few days off and regrouping, hibernating in a way. It's too bad I didn't have any control over this. It would have been less frustrating to take time away from romping around outside when the weather is horrible, but this was out of my hands. Now I'm forced to miss out on some gorgeous running weather. I have to admit, though, that no snow in December and temperatures in the 60s is somewhat unsettling.

With down time comes reflection. I'm seeing more where I need to improve habits and where I'm doing well. I was listening to a Sam Harris podcast recently, and his guest, Frank Ostasesk, said that we live life the way we look at death. This is an accurate statement for most. I'm terrified of death. As a result, I carry a lot of fear into my everyday living. We carry stress in our posture and in our interactions. In addition to contemplating life and death, I'm also trying to make sense of what matters. Putting things in perspective is never a bad move.

I have noticed that I tend to get emotional when I'm not feeling well, even more so when I have a fever. I can often be on the verge of tears and feel vulnerable when I'm physically down. I crave comfort and companionship while also wanting to isolate and avoid people. I'm not alone in this. One of my coworkers is the same way. I recently read an article about the effects of stress, especially physical stress, on emotions. One study mentioned in the article suggested that "the physical sickness caused by the inflammatory response significantly overlaps with depressive symptoms." Emotions can also impact physical health. It's not surprising that many people react the same way I do and have trouble self-regulating when ill.

Speaking of emotions, more than once, someone publicly claimed that I have "a lot of emotional problems." Part of me is tempted to say, "no shit." I mean, my entire blog addresses these issues, but who doesn't have emotional problems at some point in life? Despite the loads of issues I supposedly have, I've managed to hold the same job for over 15 years, stay in recovery from an illness that kills more people than all other mental illnesses combined, and write several books. More importantly, I've managed to show up, even when I don't want to, and be accountable without feeling the need to tear others down for no reason whatsoever. Something I will never understand is bullying for the sake of bullying.

We all have weak moments that don't necessarily define us. My confidence might be easily shaken, but my inner strength can sometimes surprise me. I just wish I could tap into it more regularly.

With that, I'm off for a short stroll in the warm outdoors. I need a dose of fresh air.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Holding Steady

Over the weekend, I ran another 5K race in close to the same time I ran recently. It was a somewhat harder course and windy, but the day was beautiful. I went into the race on the tired side after a week of not sleeping well and working extra shifts. I wasn't feeling any extra oomph in my stride; that's for sure. My goal was to run with more restraint so that I didn't hurt anything. After the last race, I was a bit tweaked and had to back off things for about two weeks. This time, I felt sore but not as wrecked, so that was good, even though I'm a tiny bit disappointed in my performance. I keep having this idea that I can somehow find my lost speed and pop out a fast race, but the realistic side of me knows that things like that don't happen, especially in a short period of time. A hair over 22 minutes isn't terrible at this point, though.

All this means is that I'm on the right track. There's a hell of a lot of room for improvement, and I seem to be doing a good job of staying fairly healthy while pushing it within reason here and there. I ended up with some aches and pains again after this race, but I'm hoping everything will keep sorting itself out as I continue the physical therapy.

That's about it. I just wanted to put some thoughts down before the memory of racing fades. I can tell I need some extra rest this week, which is what I'm doing. The more winter approaches, the more I want to hibernate anyway. If all goes well, I will have some nice races planned for the spring, summer and fall. For now, I'm holding steady. 

Bad Service

I guess you can say that I can be overly sensitive, but I'm also not one to let others step all over me. Still, situations that wouldn't bother some can leave me upset to the point of feeling shaky. Such was the case today at the Boulder Book Store.

Generally, when there are other things going on in my life that introduce stress, I have a harder time interacting with people, especially those who are haughty. I probably should have avoided unnecessary interactions today, but since the $6.50 candy bar I purchased at the Book Store was rancid, I wanted to return it. I had one other bad experience returning a chocolate bar there a few years ago. In that case, the chocolate was almost like dust. Clearly, this was not how the bar was supposed to be, but I got a voice message from a lady after I had returned the bar lecturing me about chocolate. I assume she had no idea that I spent many years reviewing chocolate and spent time as a pastry chef before that. I know a little bit about chocolate.

I'm the first to admit that I have a sensitive palate, but I also know that a lot of people eat rancid products, especially nuts, without really noticing that anything is off.  Anyone who has any knowledge of the culinary world knows how quickly unsaturated oils in nuts can oxidize, though. It happens A LOT. I happen to be sensitive to the taste. I can't stand it. Some people don't notice it as much.

For the record, I have returned only three bars of chocolate or carob in my lifetime, this being the third. I do not return products if I simply don't like them, but I will return an item that's bad.

This experience was bizarre. The three employees who were there initially were nice, but when they called for someone in the chocolate department to come take care of my return, I had a feeling there was going to be a problem. After the lecture I got a few years ago, I assumed it might be something similar. Instead, the lady who approached me had an arrogant air right from the start. She grabbed the candy and shoved some into her mouth and, after a total of .3 seconds, declared she didn't taste anything wrong. Hey, have at it. I'm not touching your shit bar that tastes like it was left in the sewer. Honestly, after she gobbled up a few more bites and, in her condescending way, said it was fine, sort of shrugging her shoulders as if to say, "too bad" I had had enough. What the fuck am I supposed to do now, take the bar back after you pawed it and ate your fill? I walked out without the candy that I had purchased or my money.

Well, one thing is clear, I will never buy from the Boulder Book Store again. I don't need a fucking lecture about what you think tastes OK, and I don't need the pompous attitude. Fuck that noise. I hope you enjoyed the stale candy you shoved in your mouth, the one I paid for if you recall. You may think that kind of behavior makes you better than others, but all it really does is make you look like a mean fool. Congrats on losing a customer, though.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Science and Eating Disorders

I'm going to attempt to be careful and do my best not to offend anyone as I write this post, but I can't guarantee some won't be upset by the content.

Recently, I found myself in a sticky situation after agreeing to work on a project about eating disorders with someone. As I mentioned in a recent post, I'm doing more speaking events. It turns out that the two of us don't see eye-to-eye on a few issues, though we do share a lot of beliefs about recovery. This isn't the first time I have had something like this happen, but it's the first time I have felt uncomfortable saying anything about it directly to the person involved. Unfortunately, in this case, this person said some things that just aren't true, and I'm not sure how to address the situation because I'm 100 percent sure that, on some level, he believes what he said is true, even though there is zero scientific evidence of his claim. It's the illness talking.

Many of us who have eating disorders have gone down a path of justifying strange behaviors by telling people it's related to a physical ailment or something other than the eating disorder. We rationalize or excuse the unhealthy act and pretend that what we are doing is OK because we are afraid or don't really want to let go of the behavior. If anyone challenges these false beliefs, those who can't be honest with themselves or others, or are lacking self-awareness will often get defensive. I'm convinced there's a part of them that knows the truth, but these are the types who will double down on their position so they can keep engaging in their disordered or unhealthy habits.

There are also many who are aware yet still engage in compulsive behaviors. These types rarely suggest others do the same and almost never bombard others about it on social media.

 Unfortunately, you see all kinds of people, especially on Instagram, inflicting their unfounded beliefs on others. You also see people flaunting their illness. They often claim how healthy they are, how far they have come, and how much they have learned, all while showing the world how little things have changed. These situations are bad enough, but it becomes even more problematic when someone tries to scare others into following the plan they have set in place for themselves by using pseudo-science to back their claims or simply ignoring science altogether.

There was a virtual round of applause on one woman's Facebook page recently when she posted the findings of the "Sugar Addiction" study, listed below, which found that there is no such thing. Further, there is no such thing as an allergy to sugar, something people often claim affects them. An allergy is an immune response to a substance. As far as anyone knows, this has never occurred to any human being in response to sugar. I believe people can react strongly to certain substances, but addictions and allergies are not the same as having an emotional or even a physiological response. Obviously, sugar will cause glucose levels in the blood to increase and cause an increase in the production of insulin, but these responses don't have anything to do with an allergic response or addiction. How powerful our minds can be.

Obviously, I'm not suggesting anyone go out and suck up a pile of sugar through a straw. I'm merely saying that most healthy bodies can handle an occasional dose of sweets without much damage. Mostly, stop teling me and others that we need to cut sugar out of our diets. Go ahead. Live dangerously. Have a Snickers.

RESULTS: We find little evidence to support sugar addiction in humans, and findings from the animal literature suggest that addiction-like behaviours, such as bingeing, occur only in the context of intermittent access to sugar. These behaviours likely arise from intermittent access to sweet tasting or highly palatable foods, not the neurochemical effects of sugar.
CONCLUSION: Given the lack of evidence supporting it, we argue against a premature incorporation of sugar addiction into the scientific literature and public policy recommendations.

I feel like dropping this here:

"Choose... designer lingerie, in the vain hope of kicking some life back into a dead relationship. Choose handbags, choose high-heeled shoes, cashmere and silk, to make yourself feel what passes for happy. Choose an iPhone made in China by a woman who jumped out of a window and stick it in the pocket of your jacket fresh from a South-Asian Firetrap. Choose Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and a thousand others ways to spew your bile across people you've never met. Choose updating your profile, tell the world what you had for breakfast and hope that someone, somewhere cares. Choose looking up old flames, desperate to believe that you don't look as bad as they do. Choose live-blogging, from your first wank 'til your last breath; human interaction reduced to nothing more than data. Choose ten things you never knew about celebrities who've had surgery. Choose screaming about abortion. Choose rape jokes, slut-shaming, revenge porn and an endless tide of depressing misogyny. Choose 9/11 never happened, and if it did, it was the Jews. Choose a zero-hour contract and a two-hour journey to work. And choose the same for your kids, only worse, and maybe tell yourself that it's better that they never happened. And then sit back and smother the pain with an unknown dose of an unknown drug made in somebody's fucking kitchen. Choose unfulfilled promise and wishing you'd done it all differently. Choose never learning from your own mistakes. Choose watching history repeat itself. Choose the slow reconciliation towards what you can get, rather than what you always hoped for. Settle for less and keep a brave face on it. Choose disappointment and choose losing the ones you love, then as they fall from view, a piece of you dies with them until you can see that one day in the future, piece by piece, they will all be gone and there'll be nothing left of you to call alive or dead. Choose your future. Choose life."

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Race Recap

Yesterday, I jumped into the Sole Mates 5K in Longmont. Actually, I wasn't allowed to enter officially, but a race official said I could join the race. Instead of being a true bandit, I offered a donation and toed the line sans number. It wasn't clear on the website that there wouldn't be race day registration, but officials were casual and super friendly, except for one nasty and rude individual who very clearly wanted to prove to the world just how grumpy she could be. Other than that encounter, the day was filled with pleasant moments and nice interactions.

I have a list of excuses as to why I'm not where I want to be that includes but isn't limited to the wind, my hormonal situation, and my usual mechanical issues that haven't completely been resolved, but, as everyone knows, we all get to the start line with our own set of problems and race with whatever baggage we are carrying that day. If I'm honest, it was a pretty nice day on a fairly fast course.

As far as the race, I surprised myself in some ways and was left feeling disappointed in others, probably a typical experience for many runners. Since it has been about a year since I last raced, I wasn't sure about pace, so I started out strong but not like a maniac. My hips won't allow any wild movements anyway, so I'm forced to start out on the slow side. In a few places, I made some bold moves and decided to pass people. It was only in the last mile that I started having some doubt about whether or not I could go with one lady who blew by everyone. That moment of hesitation and a lack of confidence left me simply holding steady rather than picking up the pace to go with her. I might have had enough fitness, but mechanically, I think I was pretty close to the maximum my body could handle, unfortunately. That just means I have more PT to do before I can truly race. Having two miles of race experience, though, got me excited about possibilities, even if it left me a bit tweaked and sore the following day.

The final result was that I ran just under 22 minutes and placed 5th or would have placed had I been able to enter. Since I started my watch at "go" and wasn't at the starting line, my chip time would have been a hair faster than what my watch read, but I can't imagine it would be significant. I know my final time isn't great, but considering I was on a scooter after having surgery this spring, I shouldn't complain. Plus, I'm old. That's really not a terrible result, all things considered. On the other hand, I would love to shave off a few seconds... or a lot more. For now, my main focus remains on staying healthy, doing the right PT, and eating well.

Monday, October 30, 2017

No News

Writing can be a lot like training. Unfortunately, I go through long periods of not writing, and when I start back, it feels awkward and difficult. Sometimes it's best to dump something on the computer screen, just to do it, even if it looks uninspired and unsophisticated. Considering what's going on in this country right now, my blog post might seem even more trivial, but here goes nothing...

I've mentioned before that no news doesn't always correlate to good or bad news, and in my most recent bout of internet silence, it has simply meant no news is no news, at least no news of substance. Actually, I do have some positive information to relay. It's hardly news, but since I can't think of anyone who would be interested to share these little victories with, I might as well dump them here.

Diet - Working with a nutritionist has been incredibly helpful. I have made a lot of progress and I'm healthier than I was a few months ago. I feel good about the direction I'm heading, but I'm aware that things aren't perfect. My diet is varied and relatively healthy, but I know I can improve here and there. Still, I see many others who are struggling with eating disorders and have to acknowledge how far I have come. The changes I made might look small or easy on the surface, but anyone who has struggled knows what kind of courage it takes to step outside of your comfort zone when it comes to diet. I can be scared and uncomfortable at times while still moving forward. It helps tremendously to have support here.

Running - PT has been HARD and sometimes painful. I'm working my ass off to do what some people might take for granted, little foot movements or balance exercises or hamstring curls. All these small exercises are helping me activate muscles that had shut down. It's almost more mentally hard than physically, but I'm making progress in both areas. Here is where I also know I have a long, long way to go. Things still pop and creak and hurt when I run, and I'm not able to open up fully. On the other hand, I have had some brief and wonderful moments of running with less pain.

This weekend, I did another time trial at the CU cross country course and ran about a minute and a half slower than when I raced there years ago. The best part of my effort is that I felt good and actually had some fun. For the first time ever, I didn't head into the second loop feeling overwhelmed and tired. Unlike in the past when I wondered if I could even finish the course, I stayed on top of the pace the whole way. I'm still too afraid to race, really, but it was so nice to have a moment of hope.

In other news - I have been volunteering a lot at the Humane Society. The other day, over 100 dogs and puppies arrived from Puerto Rico. Most of the puppies that went through the vet clinic were adopted out before their second day on the adoption floor. It's great to see. The Humane Society here does such a great job of rescuing animals.

Lately, I've also given a few speeches and went down to Arvada to help a cross country team with some running drills. I guess this is more in the no news is good news category.

To be continued.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Quick Clarification

Kevin Beck, Brad Hudson and I recently attended an event at the Boulder Book Store and had the opportunity to discuss our book, "Young Runners at the Top." A few questions from audience members brought up some differing opinions about training and coaching, so I wanted to address at least one of the topics here.

The concept for "Young Runners at the Top" started quite a while ago when Suzy Hamilton and I decided to write a book focusing on young athletes. We felt there were training books written for little kids and those for adults, but those addressing teens who want to compete successfully at a high level were lacking. She wasn't able to continue with the project, so I asked Melody Fairchild to get involved, which she was happy to do until a new coaching opportunity prevented her from having enough time.

In the end, this was somewhat of a community undertaking. I and my coauthors are grateful to all the people who helped create "Young Runners at the Top." The list of people involved includes but is not limited to:

Addie Bracy, Mark Plaatjes, Bobby McGee, Dr. Richard Hansen, Lucy and Nerida Alexander, Bean Wrenn, Melody Fairchild, Ruth Waller, Scott Fry, Greg Weich, Carrie Messner-Vickers, Róisín McGettigan-Dumas, Barb Higgins, Suzy Favor Hamilton, Rebecca Walker and Lorraine Moller.

During our first book signing event, Brad, Kevin and I addressed some important topics. We spent a long time talking about why so few young girls who run well during high school go on to compete at a high level in and after college. Obviously, it doesn't come down to one issue. Some contributing factors include transitioning through puberty; social, peer and self-imposed pressure that leads to increased and prolonged stress; and overtraining and burnout. Our book offers ideas on how to help young runners transition through these difficult times and continue running into adulthood.

While discussing these issues, people used many examples and comparisons, which doesn't resolve or accomplish very much. You can't use others as examples of the proper weight or take a training plan for one person and successfully apply it to someone else without knowing a whole lot about both. When using elite athletes as an example, you never know exactly what methods they use to achieve their success. They often offer a very minimal and possibly skewed glimpse into their lives, so it's easy to make assumptions about what might or might not be occurring. One thing the three of us suggested in "Young Runners at the Top," is to always individualize training programs and diets for each athlete. I'm not sure if we made that clear enough at the event, so I wanted to reiterate it here.

The other issue I wanted to address is weight. Some jokes were made about runners being thin, but ultimately you can't be a healthy runner and have a long and successful career if you are not fueling yourself properly. I have already posted about the seductive grace period and weight loss, so I won't go into it again here. Suffice to say that coaches need to be thinking about their athletes moving through different phases of training and competition in the healthiest way possible, and starving won't allow for longevity in the sport.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Repeat of 2012

Actually, I ran 40 seconds slower on the C.U. cross country course today than I did in 2012, but I had some issues on the second lap, mostly fear, fatigue and excessive thirst due to the heat. I also didn't realize that I was carrying an extra t-shirt in the main compartment of my running vest. That should have been obvious when I picked it up to put on, but I ignored the weight, thinking I was on the tired side and probably overly focused on trivial details. I'm sure the small amount of added weight didn't have a huge effect on my running, but it certainly didn't help keep me cool.

The first lap went well. I felt strong and comfortable, but the second lap was a mess. I was fussing with my water bottle and slowing down. It seems I always run into some issue with someone else whenever I'm doing any kind of timed event on that course. Today was no different when a biker coming from the opposite way randomly cut in front of me at the bottom of the big hill and stopped. She apologized, but I thought it was odd that, with all the open space there, she felt the need to zoom in front of me as we turned, cut me off and stop. Minor complications, but those little things seem to throw me off, especially lately.

I was tired and sneezy after the run, so I walked most of the way home. I can tell I don't have much stamina right now. Just like in 2012, I'm disappointed but have to realize that it's good to even be running at all, everything considered. For some unknown reason, a couple of weeks ago, I was able to run 2 minutes faster up to the Mesa Trail this year than my best time last year, though I always use that as more of a fun tempo thing. Still, I was pleasantly surprised. I guess I'm inconsistent at the moment, but it's fine. I have to be happy that I overcame some reluctance to even try again and got out there, sore feet and all. That's progress at this point.

Monday, September 4, 2017

What the Health

At the suggestion of a friend, I watched "What the Health," a documentary about diet and health. Actually, it's more of a one-sided, biased look at diet and health.

The good points of the film, unfortunately, are buried under a lot of bullshit spouted by both the interviewer and the people being interviewed. It's strange that Kip Anderson, the director, producer, writer, and editor of "What the Health" makes quite the fuss about certain studies being funded by specific groups, while pretty much everybody involved in this film is a vegan and very vigorously promotes a vegan lifestyle. For example, Dr. Neal Barnard, one of the many vegans interviewed in the film, is the president of a vegan and animal rights group that has a budget of well over 7 million and was a regular contributing writer for PETA. He and others interviewed in the movie have written books promoting veganism and are activists for the cause. They're not merely suggesting that eating a vegan diet might be good for your health, which isn't actually confirmed by this film, they want you to buy their shit. Meat, after all, causes everything from endometriosis to cancer, and these guys have the books, programs and advice to help you give it up.

There are plenty of other blog posts or articles debunking the obscure and questionable studies Anderson focuses on in the film. I don't think I can do a better job than either of the two linked to below. At one point, Anderson calls a survey a study that supposedly confirms eating an egg a day is as bad as smoking. I addressed a similar survey situation here when a vegan activist woman implied that filling out a questionnaire is as valid as an actual study.

To give you an idea of some of the more ridiculous myths that are promoted in this film, there was a comment in "What the Health" about cheese being coagulated cow pus, which is as absurd as claiming chocolate is really dismembered spider parts because the FDA allows a certain amount of critter pieces per 100 grams in the chocolate making process. That's not even a good analogy because there really isn't any pus in milk, while, sorry to tell you, there might be some spider parts in your Hershey's bar. Nearly every study presented in the film was twisted or bent beyond recognition.

Debunking "What the Health" I

"In the first of several phone call vignettes, the filmmaker, Kip Andersen, calls the American Cancer Society to ask why they don’t warn about the dangers of meat on their home page. He is put on hold, but is eventually granted an interview. The interview is cancelled and the ACA stops responding when they realize he only wants to argue with them about diet and cancer. I’m not surprised. Their recommendations are based on expert evaluation of all the published evidence and they are not likely to change their minds because a single nonscientist with an agenda walks in off the street to argue with them. 

The phone call gimmick is repeated for the American Diabetes Association. He wants to know why they don’t clearly state on their home page that meat causes diabetes, and how dare they include a recipe for baconwrapped shrimp! He eventually is able to interview an ADA spokesman who very reasonably tells him there is insufficient evidence that diet can cure diabetes, and says “We recommend a healthy diet.” He acknowledges that there are studies, but points out that many of them have never been replicated or are wrong; that’s why we do peer review. Andersen keeps bringing up individual studies until the spokesman loses patience and stops the interview, saying he doesn’t want to get into an argument. Andersen interprets this to mean that the ADA is not interested in prevention or cure. 

Then he calls the American Heart Association to ask why they include beef and egg recipes. He gets a similar response. He interprets these failed phone call inquiries as stonewalling and an organized effort to conceal the truth. He discovers that the ACA, ADA, AHA and other mainstream organizations are funded in part by food manufacturers like Dannon, Kraft, Tyson, and fast food restaurant chains like KFC. He says we can’t trust them because they’re taking money from the companies that are causing the very diseases they are trying to prevent. 

As an analogy, I couldn’t help wondering how the American Academy of Pediatrics would respond to a random phone call demanding that their home page warn that vaccines may cause autism and complaining that doctors can’t be trusted because they are paid by the Big Pharma companies that sell vaccines. I wouldn’t blame them for hanging up."  -- Harriet Hall

Debunking "What the Health" II

"What’s more, the WHO did not say that eating meat was as deadly as smoking. Rather, it determined that the strength of the evidence linking processed meats to colorectal cancer is similar to the strength of the evidence linking tobacco and cancer, meaning there’s convincing data here. This certainly doesn't mean that eating processed meat is as bad for you as smoking. It means that according to the agency's assessment, the links between processed meat and certain types of cancer are well-established.

So when the filmmaker asks, “If processed meats are labeled the same as cigarettes, how is it even legal for kids to be eating this way?” he clearly didn’t understand the WHO’s read of the research. (To be fair, a lot of other media outlets got the WHO warning wrong too.)"  -- Julia Belluz

In general, "What the Health" is too filled with errors to be any good. One positive thing about the movie is that it calls attention to some of the unethical and inhumane factory farming practices in the United States and encourages people to eat more fruits and vegetables, something your mother probably told you to do, too. Oh, and Steve-O made an appearance because he's an expert on scientific research pertaining to health and diet, I guess. Lastly, the success stories of people who, after two weeks of eating a plant-based diet, were transformed from crippled and sick individuals on cabinets full of medications to happy shinny medication-free specimens of health were cool. In general, though, this flick is two thumbs down for me.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Summer's Gone, Almost

Damn, I'm not even sure where to start. It has been a long time since I last put some thoughts down. I wish I could say that no news is good news, which is often the case with me, but that's not what happened, though things are improving. What a bumpy ride, though.

Today was my first day back volunteering as a recovery aid at the vet clinic. I took some time off shortly before my foot surgery in May, and it took me this long to get to the point where I felt I could handle lifting, walking and being on my feet for the duration of a full shift. It was good I waited because my feet were put to the test this afternoon. I had a moment of concern while taking care of a rather large older and very sweet dog that had dental surgery. Even with two of us lifting and carrying him to his kennel, it was a bit of a challenge. My feet held up, but they are on the sore side now.

After my doctor removed the two neuromas and did what he could for that third nerve that was attached to my joint capsule and to my skin, all in my right foot, I was healing up nicely until I got the stitches removed. An infection set in a few days later, so June ended up being complete hell. I was on three different kinds of antibiotics for the entire month. That led to other complications. Needless to say, the healing process was very much delayed, and I wasn't able to do any PT. As a result, I have a huge wall of scar tissue that needs to be addressed. Also, a metatarsal or two in my left foot decided to drop. I guess the left side was feeling left out of the pain game, so now it's nice and sore, too. As terrible as all of this sounds, I attempted to survive, and despite everything, I'm starting to jog a bit, which feels weird after being on one of those knee scooters for well over a month.

I'm also trying to put on some weight since I lost some throughout June. Between the antibiotics and the painkillers, I felt like shit, so eating was something I often had to force. It seems like this part of the healing process should be easier than it has been now that I'm starting to feel better, but losing weight given my past has a tendency to trigger weird thoughts, even when it's not a relapse. I'm making progress, though, and allowing myself to enjoy going out with friends for meals, which really has been a pleasure. Since I haven't made quite enough of a leap forward, I'm also buying more calorie-dense foods to add to what I'm already eating. Being too rigid is keeping me somewhat stuck, so I'm loosening the reigns and letting go completely from time to time until I can get to a better place mentally. My PT said that gaining weight will help with healing, so I need to be better about my diet. Right now, I'm now I'm more focused on getting enough, but I hope to start working on eating healthier foods, more vegetables and whole foods etc. soon. One step at a time. This road has been pretty damn difficult and painful both emotionally and physically, so I'm trying not to get overwhelmed. I'm human. We all have our struggles and methods of dealing with stress.

I may never run fast again, but I sure am grateful I can run at all at this point. Man, going through hard times sure can shake your confidence, but I'm emerging out of that dark hole and starting to get out in the world again. Somehow, throughout this ordeal, I managed to continue working, writing, and showing up, even when didn't feel like it.